Date of Award

12-2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Agricultural Economics

Major Professor

Roland K. Roberts, James A. Larson

Committee Members

Dayton Lambert, Burton English

Abstract

The data intensive nature of precision farming necessitates the use of different technologies to collect, transmit, manipulate, and apply information. Understanding the economic factors associated with decisions regarding technology adoption and abandonment is essential to the continued growth and feasibility of precision farming. The development of precision agricultural technologies, as well as educational and promotional efforts concerning precision farming, can benefit from an understanding of the factors influencing adoption and abandonment of precision agricultural technology. The first part of the study examined farm and farmer characteristics influencing the adoption and subsequent abandonment of precision soil sampling in cotton production. The second part of the study analyzed farm and farmer characteristics influencing adoption of personal digital assistants (PDA) and other handheld computers with global positioning systems (GPS) capabilities in cotton production.

Farm and farmer characteristics affecting adoption and abandonment of precision soil sampling in cotton production were examined first using univariate analysis of farm and farm characteristics of adopters and non-adopters and second using probit analysis. Younger, more educated farmers who had positive perceptions about the future of precision agriculture, and who operated larger farms were more likely to adopt precision soil sampling. Computer use in farm management and placing a greater percentage of cropped acres in crops other than cotton also positively influenced adoption. Younger farmers who used variable-rate application of inputs were less likely to abandon precision soil sampling. Acreage and the percentage of cropped acres in crops other than cotton positively influenced abandonment.

Results indicate that younger farmers who perceive that Extension services were useful in making precision farming decisions have a higher probability of adopting a PDA or handheld GPS device. The presence of greater yield variability and the use of remotely sensed crop images, grid soil sampling, plant mapping, and variable-rate application of certain inputs also increase the probability of adoption. Percentages of PDA/handheld GPS device use were highest for variable-rate application of fertilizer and lime, management zone identification, drainage management, and the application of growth regulator.

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